Hadoop has a lot of configurations which specify durations or intervals of time. Unfortunately these different configurations have little consistency in units - eg some are in milliseconds, some in seconds, and some in minutes. This makes it difficult for users to configure, since they have to always refer back to docs to remember the unit for each property.
The proposed solution is to add an API like Configuration.getTimeDuration which allows the user to specify the units with a postfix. For example, "10ms", "10s", "10m", "10h", or even "10d". For backwards-compatibility, if the user does not specify a unit, the API can specify the default unit, and warn the user that they should specify an explicit unit instead.